The past three months I’ve had so much fun working with The Bookish Escape Crate, writing reviews for their blog of the books they include in the box each month. This week I’m sharing my reviews for those first three books, starting with Lexi Freiman’s Inappropriation, which was included in the August box.
I was thrilled when I found out that Lexi Freiman’s Inappropriation was the book being included in the August box – I’d heard a bit of buzz about it and that cover caught my eye every time I saw it in a book shop. What I didn’t know was how hard it would be to write a review of haha! It is tricky to describe even what Inappropriation is about, so here is the description from the publisher’s website to get us started…
Starting at a prestigious private Australian girls’ school, fifteen-year-old Ziggy Klein is confronted with an alienating social hierarchy that hurls her into the arms of her grade’s most radical feminists. Plagued by fantasies of offensive sexual stereotypes and a psychotherapist mother who thinks bum-pinching is fine if it comes from the heart chakra, Ziggy sets off on a journey of self-discovery that moves from the Sydney drag scene to the extremist underbelly of the internet to the coastal bohemia of a long-dissolved matriarchal cult.
As PC culture collides with her friends’ morphing ideology and her parents’ kinky sex life, Ziggy’s understanding of gender, race, and class begins to warp. Ostracised at school, she seeks refuge in Donna Haraway’s seminal feminist text, A Cyborg Manifesto, and discovers an indisputable alternative identity. Or so she thinks. A controversial Indian guru, a mean clique of blondes all called Cate, and her own Holocaust-surviving grandmother propel Ziggy through a series of misidentifications, culminating in a date-rape revenge plot so confused, it just might work.
OK, so, right up front I just want to say that there are a lot of potential triggers in this one, as well as some characters speaking or dealing with situations in problematic ways, so if you have any concerns in that regard then definitely read up more, and in any case be prepared to be a bit uncomfortable! I found it just as squirmy and cringey as the cover promised, but overall I am pretty sure that I liked it!
In case you can’t tell already, I think this was kind of a unique read. Although there is a plot running through the novel, for me it very much takes a back seat to the satire and societal analysis that is really the driver of the book – so much so that while I felt like I cared about Ziggy I wasn’t really that worried about how the story played out. This wasn’t a problem for me at all – I love a good, observational novel every bit as much as a plot-driven page-turner, and the satire and observations in this are so sharp and spot on.
The story is told from Ziggy’s point of view, and she is by far the character we get to know best, since we see everyone else through her eyes, and a key theme throughout the book is her struggling to figure other people out. Ziggy is one of the quirkiest characters I’ve come across, but mostly her feelings and experiences still had something at their centre that I felt like I could relate to. The portrayal of the confusion she feels as she tries to figure out who she is and where she belongs on the spectrums of both sexuality and gender, felt authentic even though it was at times super over the top.
One area I thought was especially relatable was the struggle Ziggy faces between trying to say the right thing and fit in with her friends, but at the same time wanting to stay true to herself – there are times when she goes along with what the other girls say at the same time as she is questioning whether it is really right. I think this is probably a feeling most of us have had, and which I thought was so well described in the book.
Overall I thought this one was quite the ride. It took me a little while to settle into the pace – at first I felt like the satire was coming at me at the speed of light, with one witty observation after another, and to be honest I was a bit worried I wasn’t going to be clever enough to keep up! But once I got into it I found this a fun and somewhat uncomfortable read, which has definitely stayed with me in the week or so since I finished it! I hope everyone else enjoys it too!
Would you recommend this to someone?
Yes! I would recommend it for fans of sharp satire who are are comfortable getting a bit uncomfortable. A dirty coming of age novel
Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend, Irvine Welsh (although this book is more coming of age), Nick Earls and Alisdair Duncan
My review of Inappropriation was originally published over on the Bookish Escape Crate blog.
I received a free Bookish Escape Crate box in exchange for my review.
You can check out Inappropriation on Goodreads here, and find Lexi Freiman online here.